Can I Move With My Child Outside British Columbia?

Our Vancouver relocation lawyers say that if you share custody of your child and need to relocate from the Province of British Columbia, you should anticipate a legal challenge, unless of course the other parent contents to the move.  While the legal test in British Columbia for relocating with a child is difficult, it is not impossible to overcome – in the end the ultimate question will always come down to whether it is in the best interest of the child to move or whether it is in the best interest of the child to stay.   As this will include a full analysis of all the circumstances of the relocation, we highly recommend that anyone contemplating a relocation first obtain the legal advice of our highly experienced Vancouver relocation lawyers.

Our Vancouver relocation lawyers know how to present your child’s relocation in the best possible light and we work together with you to develop a strategic winning case strategy that is tailored to the unique circumstances of your life, and your proposed move.   New jobs, new relationships or just a simple desire for a new life may trigger a desire to relocate and there may be no question that the relocation is best for you.   But what the courts in British Columbia are going to consider, and what they are going to base their decision on, is whether the relocation is best for your children. In weighing those factors, the court will consider the following:

 (1) the circumstances and reasons for the intended relocation;

(2) the reasons, if any, why a parent is objecting to the intended relocation;

(3) the history and quality of each parent’s relationship with the child and specifically whether a parent has substantially failed or refused to exercise the parental responsibilities allocated to him or her under the parenting plan or allocation judgment;

(4) the educational opportunities for the child at the existing location and at the proposed new location;

(5) the presence or absence of extended family at the existing location and at the proposed new location;

(6) the anticipated impact of the relocation on the child;

(7) whether the court will be able to fashion a reasonable allocation of parental responsibilities between all parents if the relocation occurs;

(8) the wishes of the child, taking into account the child’s maturity and ability to express reasoned and independent preferences as to relocation;

(9) possible arrangements for the exercise of parental responsibilities appropriate to the parents’ resources and circumstances and the developmental level of the child;

(10) minimization of the impairment to a parent-child relationship caused by a parent’s relocation; and

(11) any other relevant factors bearing on the child’s best interests.

Legal Principles Relevant to Child Relocation Law As Explained by our Vancouver Relocation Lawyers

Principle of Maximum Contact: the “Maximum contact” principle says that is in a child’s best interest to maximize contact with both parents.  This principle therefore mitigates against relocation as a proposed relocation will generally adversely affect the other parent’s ability to see the child / children.  In this case, the court weighed the benefit of the contact between the child and the father against the benefits of permitting the move.

The Status Quo is Not the Default:in relocation cases, it is often argued that the “status quo” should not be disturbed and the current parenting and residential arrangement is the preferred one, given that it is what the children are used to.

Deference Should be Given to the Parent with the Majority of the Parenting Time: where one parent has more parenting time than the other, it is suggested that “great respect” should be given to their wishes.

Case Study: Current Case Law on Child Relocation 

The recent BC Supreme Court Case of K.E.J. v P.R.J., 2018 BCSC 1401, involved a mother wanting to relocate with her two daughters from Victoria to Kelowna.  The father had parenting time with his daughters of no less than six overnights a month and there was no question the proposed move would impact his parenting time and relationship with his children, given the significant distance between Victoria and Kelowna.  In allowing the relocation, The Honourable Mr. Justice Punnett weighted the following considerations:

  • The children wanted to move to Kelowna;
  • The mother was remarrying and they intended to reside in Kelowna as a family;
  • The children were found to be intelligent, good students and the evidence suggested they would adapt well to a move;
  • The fact the mother had the majority of the parenting time and the children well accustomed to her care;
  • Financial Security of the parties including the benefits of mother’s proposed employment in Kelowna;
  • Proposed arrangements for the father’s parenting time including cost and availability of air travel (here it was relevant that the parties worked in aviation and could take advantage of discounted airfare)

 Your Next Move

Our highly trained Vancouver relocation lawyers at Nasser Allan LLP are here to answer any question you may have about moving or relocating with your children.  If you’re thinking about relocation, take advantage of the opportunity to sit down and talk to one of our experienced family law lawyers, at no cost.  Contact us on 604 620 – 8682 for your free initial consultation.